Jewelry Appraisals: The Guide to How, What and Where

Man assessing a piece of jewelry

A jewelry appraisal is the process in which a certified professional examines and states a monetary value for a piece of jewelry or collection, typically resulting in a document that outlines the object’s attributes and assigned value. Whether you’re looking to get your jewelry appraised for insurance purposes or for resale, this article outlines key considerations in the process, and the steps to make along the way.

Types of Appraisals

There are many types of appraisals available, each serving a different purpose such as tax, insurance or resale. All types of appraisals seek to verify the fair market value of an object; as such, the jewelry appraisal needs to be as objective and as accurate as possible. Common types of appraisals include: 

  • Insurance Appraisals / Retail Replacement Value Appraisals
  • Estate Appraisals
  • Charitable Donation Appraisals
  • Fair Market Value Appraisals / Financial Planning
Antique Gold and Blue Enamel Bracelet, France

Antique Gold and Blue Enamel Bracelet, France. Sold for $2,500 via Doyle New York (February 2020).

Specific to appraisals for insurance purposes, the Retail Replacement Value is only an indication of its value, as a new piece. The amount one might receive in the event of being stolen, damaged or lost is dependent on the following on which of the two following policies they fall under:

  • Agreed Value policies guarantee you the full amount of retail replacement value. Although generally more expenses, this policy represents a transparent understanding between the insurer and the insured of an exact amount that will be paid in case of loss or theft. However, this means that the policy must be adjusted every two years or so to reflect current retail market value and requires fairly regular re-appraisal for accurate re-valuation.
  • Actual Cash Value is defined by insurers as “actual cash value minus depreciation [wear and tear] and obsolescence [being out-of-date].” Although usually cheaper than ‘Agreed Value’ policies, the premium is calculated on the degree of risk, therefore if the insurer must settle in cash, they can pay a lesser amount than the figure on which they’ve based your policy. 

Modern jewelry may receive a New Replacement Value (NRV), while antique jewelry may receive a Second Hand Replacement Value (SHRV). It is a common misconception that a jewelry appraisal for insurance purposes reveals the item’s fair market value, or the price at which an object would change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller. If you choose at some stage to sell at auction or otherwise, this appraisal in addition to a grading report will help any specialist or jewelry dealer formulate the resale market value, as outlined further down in this article. 

White Gold, Blue Topaz and Diamond Bracelet, Ring and Pair of Earclips

White Gold, Blue Topaz and Diamond Bracelet, Ring and Pair of Earclips. Sold for $3,200 via Doyle New York (February 2020).

Where to Get Jewelry Appraised

Consulting with certified valuers is the most reliable and accurate way of obtaining an appraisal. Valuers should hold gemmological and diamond grading qualifications from a recognized body such as the Gemmological Association of Great Britain, The Gemological Institute of America or the National Association of Goldsmiths. 

To start your search, visit either the The National Association of Jewellers: Institute of Registered Valuers, which is the UK’s leading association of jewelry valuers, Or, for the United States, the Gemological Institute of America’s library of Appraiser Associations offers reliable resources for collectors.

Jewelry Appraisal Cost

How much does a jewelry appraisal cost? Fees associated with jewelry appraisals can vary significantly, depending on the valuer. Some appraisers may charge hourly rates, while others may charge a percentage of the final value of the items appraised. Hourly rates can range from $50-150 per hour. However, if you plan to sell at auction, a specialist will often provide the valuation for free, as the house will ultimately make a percentage of commission on any items sold. There are also online jewelry appraisal services that provide valuations for a nominal fee. 

Gold, Red Stone and Diamond Ring

Gold, Red Stone and Diamond Ring. Sold for $1,200 via Doyle New York (March 2020).

The Appraisal Process

A great way of getting started in the appraisal process is to send images to your chosen valuer. The images need to be high resolution and offer details of the piece, ideally using a macro lens setting. Valuers will want to see the piece at different angles in order to determine the age of the item and to identify any damage or previous repairs.

An appraiser will often evaluate the piece based on a number of factors, including metal composition, karat, weight, measurement, and whether or not the gems are natural. You can help this process along by providing any relevant documentation such as receipts and certificates of authenticity, which can result in a more accurate figure.

A reliable jewelry appraisal should consist of the following:

  • A process that matches the ultimate purpose of the appraisal; 
  • Clear explanation of the grading process and measurements used; 
  • Definitive statement of value with seal or signature by an authorized appraiser; 
  • Statement of the appraisal purpose on the certificate; and 
  • Offering an open discussion in which you may ask any questions of the appraiser.
A diamond ring accompanied by a GIA report

White gold and diamond ring, accompanied by a GIA report.

If You Plan to Sell

If you plan to sell at auction, a diamond grading report is a critical companion to your piece of jewelry as a transparent, accurate and objective tool needed to determine the current market value of your jewelry. Diamond jewelry grading is the thorough evaluation of the jewel’s stone and its attributes: carat, cut, color and clarity, also known as the “four Cs.” Gradings are carried out in renowned gemological laboratories like GIA and IGI by certified professionals. Based on this and any previous valuation appraisals, the auction house specialist should be able to provide you with an estimated market value for resale.

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